Common Questions in Tennessee Divorcehamilton-law-firm-memphis-criminal-defense-divorce-faq

Deciding to get a divorce sets you down the path of a what can be a very stressful process. Divorce forces a couple to make important financial and legal decisions while under stress. In order to make the right decisions for yourself, and for your family, it’s important to have a knowledgeable guide and a diligent advocate to help you through the process of divorce in Tennessee.

There are many questions that arise as soon as, or even before, divorce is imminent. Here are a few questions that are common. While these are no substitute for legal advice, they may help to get you started.

How long do I have to live in Tennessee to obtain a divorce?

In most cases, either the plaintiff or the defendant must have been domiciled (lived in) Tennessee for six months before you can file a Complaint for Divorce. Both spouses do not have to live in Tennessee, but at least one must. There are exceptions to the six-month rule for cases of abuse or other emergencies.

What are the grounds for divorce in Tennessee?

The Tennessee laws for divorce are quite clear. There are two grounds for divorce: fault or no-fault.

The no-fault grounds for divorce are:

  • Irreconcilable differences
  • Spouses who have no children and have lived in separate residences, and have not cohabited as spouses, for at least two years

The fault grounds for divorce are:

  • Either spouse, at the time of the marriage, was and still is naturally impotent and incapable of procreation
  • Either party has knowingly entered into a second marriage, in violation of a previous marriage that has not ended
  • Either spouse has committed adultery
  • Either spouse has willfully or maliciously deserted or left the other for one year without a reasonable cause
  • Either spouse has been convicted of a crime
  • Either spouse has committed a felony and been sentenced to confinement in the penitentiary
  • Either spouse has attempted to take the life of the other, by poison or any other means showing malice
  • Either spouse has refused to move to Tennessee, without a reasonable cause, and has been willfully absent from the spouse residing in Tennessee for two years
  • The wife was pregnant at the time of the marriage, by another person, without the knowledge of the husband
  • Habitual drunkenness or abuse of narcotic drugs by either spouse, when the spouse began the habit after marriage
  • Either spouse is guilty of such cruel and inhuman treatment or conduct towards the spouse as renders cohabitation unsafe and improper, which may also be referred to in pleadings as inappropriate marital conduct
  • Either spouse has offered such indignities to the other spouse’s person as to render the other spouse’s condition intolerable, and thereby forced the other spouse to withdraw
  • Either spouse has abandoned the other, or turned the other out of doors, and refused or neglected to provide for the other while having the ability to do so

What if my spouse lives in another state?

While having a spouse that lives in another state does complicate your case, your Tennessee attorney can help you decide in which state to file for divorce. If you wish to file in Tennessee, you must be sure that Tennessee courts have jurisdiction. You will still have to serve papers, or “notice”, the other party.

Do my spouse and I need lawyers if we agree on everything?

While you and your spouse may have come to agreement on important decisions regarding finances and children, it is still wise to have an experienced divorce lawyer review your agreements. In addition, because the agreement is a legal document that must be filed with the court, a divorce attorney can help ensure the paperwork is done correctly. This can save time and money, and help your divorce process go smoothly.

How much will a divorce cost in Tennessee?

Costs vary depending on all the factors involved in your divorce, including total assets, children, and how well you and your spouse communicate. Each divorce is unique. But, there are two main costs to consider.

Court costs are fixed by each county and these generally include service of process, publication, and filing fees. They can run between $100 and $500, so be sure to check with your county.

The cost for a divorce attorney will vary. If you and your spouse have agreed on the division of assets and parenting, or if the divorce is uncontested, you may be able to complete the process for under $1,500. However, when there is disagreement the costs begin to rise. Most divorce lawyers will want a retainer up front that will be used towards billable hours. As the divorce proceeds, you will be charged by the hour for the lawyer’s work on your case.

What is the process for getting divorced in Tennessee?

The basic procedure for a divorce that is uncontested includes these steps:

  • File for divorce with the court. You may file in the county where you or your spouse live.
  • Prepare and sign a Marital Dissolution Agreement
  • If there are minor children, prepare a Permanent Parenting Plan and set a court hearing to determine if the agreement meets Tennessee law
  • If the judge agrees that your plan is legal, a Final Divorce Decree is issued

For a contested divorce, there are more steps:

  • File for divorce with the court. You may file in the county where you or your spouse live.
  • Give notice of filing to the other spouse. This is known as serving the other party.
  • The other spouse then files an answer to the divorce petition
  • The discovery phase where depositions, interrogatories, and fact finding are conducted
  • A divorce hearing in court with a judge.
  • A Final Decree is issued that grants or denies divorce

How do I serve the divorce petition on my spouse?

There are essentially two ways to legally notify the other party that you have filed for divorce. First, your spouse can sign a Waiver of Service of Process and you may then either hand it to them or mail it to them. In situations where this is not possible or advisable, a private process server or a sheriff’s deputy will present, or serve, the other party with the notice.

What issues have to be decided before the divorce is final?

There are many issues that must be agreed on before a judge approves the final divorce decree. These include child support, child custody, alimony, and property division.

When the parties can settle, or agree on the terms, a Marital Dissolution Agreement will outline the division of all assets and debts. If alimony is awarded, this agreement will also state the type and terms of the alimony. In addition, a Permanent Parenting Plan will describe all agreements related to minor children, including a parenting schedule and any other provisions for the children.

If the parties can not settle, a divorce trial will be held and a judge will determine how all the issues will be handled.

Can I get an annulment in Tennessee?

An annulment essentially states that a marriage never existed. There are some serious circumstances that consider a marriage to be void, including bigamy (one party was already married), incest (the parties are closely related), and insanity (either party has been judged to be insane at the time of the marriage). These are violations of public policy.

In other instances, a marriage is voidable for other reasons, including if either party is under age, lacks capacity, has not given consent, or if there is fraud, force, a mistake, impotency, or if the woman is pregnant by another or if the marriage is not consummated.

Contact an Experienced Memphis Divorce Attorney

These are just a few of the questions that arise with a Tennessee divorce. To make a difficult time as smooth as possible, be sure to consult with a Tennessee divorce attorney to help you through the process.